Rape In Assam: Are we avoiding the uncomfortable truth?

REPRESENTATIVE

The incident of a 23-year-old woman gang-raped in a bus at Delhi in the year 2012 to a 14-year- old girl gang-raped by a local quack and his assistant at Shahjahanpur district in the year 2021, reflects that a single commonality can be considered behind increasing rape cases.

Anindita Kalita

Rape truly is the most personal of all crimes as the attacker uses their body as a weapon. While the United Nations continues to promote democracy as the best system to secure women’s dignity and rights, India the world’s largest democracy fails to protect the nation’s women.

Rape cases have always been a recurring issue across the country making it the fourth most common crime against women. In India, where many female goddesses are worshipped, it is ironic to find out about increasing crimes against women.

In a bid to protect cultural values, societies hardly discuss matters related to sex and sexualities. Hence, most survivors are less likely to discuss rape or report incidents that fit the legal definition of rape or attempted rape.

Highlighting the problem of rape from multiple perspectives viz., social, cultural, institutional, environmental, and individual perspective, it can be noticed that be it in affluent or frugal, educated or non-educated contexts; or open or closed societies, this crime is on a rise.

Comparatively, we consider Assam to be a safer place for women but what reports have revealed in recent times is completely the opposite.  According to the National Crime Records Bureau Report 2020, Assam records the highest rate of crime against women while Nagaland records the lowest rate in the country.

Some experts say that the deep-rooted patriarchy is one of the reasons, whereas the other section believes lack of education is the main reason behind rape.

The incident of a 23-year-old woman gang-raped in a bus at Delhi in the year 2012 to a 14-year- old girl gang-raped by a local quack and his assistant at Shahjahanpur district in the year 2021, reflects that a single commonality can be considered behind increasing rape cases.

Crime In India 2020 report shows that the rate of crime against women in Assam was 154.3, way higher than the national rate of 56.5. Odisha came second with 112.9 and Delhi came third with 106.4.

However, is not specific to any one neighborhood, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or financial status. Let’s have a closer look at the current state of Assam.

It is commonly assumed that lack of education is one of the most common factors, but, there are many instances of rape cases where the accused are highly educated. Some of the institutional rape cases are stated below:

On March 29, at 12:50 a.m. a female student from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati was brought to Guwahati Medical College Hospital unconscious. She woke up and told the authorities that she was sexually assaulted. The student alleged sexual assault by seniors at the institute after she was found unconscious at the gate of her hostel late at night. The accused, a 21-year-old BTech student, allegedly made a 19-year-old woman from the same institute drink alcohol forcibly and raped her.

In a similar case in February 2017, two students of IIT- Guwahati were arrested for allegedly raping three girls of Gauhati University by lacing their drinks with drugs during the institute’s annual cultural festival.

A student of Tezpur University, Assam has been allegedly arrested for sexually assaulting his classmate. The accused is an MBBT student of the University. The alleged case has been filed at Tezpur Sadar Police Station. However, more details are yet to be revealed.

A college student was allegedly involved in gang-raping a fellow student of his college in Dibrugarh along with his brother-in-law and one other.

Another very unusual incident was published by The Sentinel, about a 10-year-old minor boy getting allegedly raped by a transgender miscreant near Machkhowa’s Lachit Ghat in Guwahati.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was introduced in India to protect the rights of children, but sadly, the act did not do any justice. It is instead observed that the cases of rape on minors are rapidly increasing.

A six-year-old girl was murdered for resisting a sexual attempt by three boys who were addicted to watching pornographic clips. Her body was found in a toilet at a stone quarry in Assam’s Nagaon district earlier this week.

On June 11, the bodies of the two minors were raped and murdered and their bodies were found hanging from a tree inside a forest in Abhayakuti village under the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in Kokrajhar.

A 50-year-old man has been arrested by the police for, allegedly, raping a minor girl in Paneri, Udalguri district of Assam in the month of October.

A nine-year-old girl was allegedly brutally raped and murdered in her own house in Lakhimpur district of Assam in May.

A 12-year-old Assam domestic help was allegedly raped and set ablaze by her employer as she was pregnant.

A differently-abled minor girl child became a victim of gang rape and was pregnant.

Rape cases against scheduled caste women rose 37% in the last 4 years. Hence, a rise in caste/community violence is on a rise. Recently in Gohpur, a small town in Biswanath district, the daughter of a marginalized farmer from an indigenous Mising community was raped.

Moreover, marital, date, and serial rapes have also been showing a steady rise in the state.

To reach the in-depth cause we need to focus on a broader context. ‘Why does a rape occur?’ ‘What causes someone to commit rape?’ ‘What factors contribute to it?’ Answers to these questions will lead us to a strategy to prevent the heinous crime.

Starting from a patriarchal society to gender inequality, a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women, to considering sex as a taboo by the country which is the second most populated country after China, and which developed Kama Sutra for the world, sensitization and education on ending gender violence especially rape has a long way to go.

Moreover, power distance theory represents the degree of tolerance of social inequality by members of a social system. India scores 77 which signifies how well the country approves hierarchy and top-down structure in society.

Incidents of rape have been on the rise in India despite a number of laws to mitigate rape. Many a time, criminals get an advantage during their trials due to factors like the accuracy of facts while the complaint is registered, the stigma attached to the victim, an embarrassing investigation, etc., and these challenges lead to incidents of rape cases in India.

Lack of sex education in educational institutions for the sake of conserving the nature of Indian culture can also trigger an increase in sexual crimes.

Thereafter, issues like lack of identity, separation from family, and anonymity of the migrants could also be a possible explanation of the increasing rate of rape. Furthermore, children are exposed to all kinds of violent behaviors, criminal ideology, and porn movies can influence children and even adults to indulge in rape cases.

Psychological reasons may compel people to commit crimes too. Emotional distress or abnormalities, mental illness, dementia, childhood experiences, child abuse, and sex addicts are individual-level factors leading to rapes.

On the other hand, reporting of gender violence crimes has improved in the country.

“Reporting has improved. Women are more aware. They do not tolerate violence anymore. They can write an FIR [First Information Report] and email it if they cannot come to the police station. The police are required to register the case even if it is in an email,” Rosie Kalita, superintendent of police (SP) in the Chief Minister’s Special Vigilance Cell, Assam Police, told IndiaSpend.

Yes, more women are reporting, but some cases do not even reach the police station. Also, every morning we find a new case of rape. According to the NCRB data, Assam has recorded the highest crime rate against women for the fourth consecutive year. The rate is calculated as the number of crimes recorded per the 1,00,000 population. The state’s crime rate against women is 154.3, which is almost thrice the national average of 56.5.

As said by Ms. Neelima, an ex-journalist of the IndianExpress, should we fight for the future generation or fight against the wrongs of history?

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